Nicaragua's national bird, the turquoise-browed ... Photo © Jeff Grabert/123rf.

Explore Miraflor Nature Reserve in Nicaragua

More than a trip into Estelí’s misty mountains, a visit to Miraflor is a trip backward in time. Miraflor is unabashedly rustic, natural, and unpretentious. Declared a protected natural reserve in 1990, this rudimentary tourist infrastructure was developed by locals. You can certainly visit parts of Miraflor in a day trip from Estelí, but consider experiencing the unique and friendly lodging options.

A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.

The Natural Beauty of Nicaragua’s Las Isletas

The 365-island archipelago of Nicaragua formed when Volcán Mombacho erupted some 20,000 years ago, hurling its top half into the nearby lake in giant masses of rock, ash, and lava. The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular there is plenty for history buffs to enjoy as well. The islanders themselves are interesting and friendly, maintaining a rural lifestyle unique in Nicaragua: Children paddle dugout canoes or rowboats to school from an early age, and their parents get along by fishing and farming or by taking camera-toting tourists for a ride in their boats.

White-faced Capuchin monkey. Photo © Roy Luck, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Wildlife Gardens Around Monteverde

A growing number of wildlife attractions are found in and around Monteverde’s cloud forest as well as north of Santa Elena village. You’ll find bugs, birds, butterflies, bats, and an amazing range of other cloud forest critters. Check out these gardens, exhibits, and reserves.

A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

The Best Wildlife Spotting in the Belize Cayes

Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds, many of which can be spotted along the cayes. An island vacation doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wildlife—here is what to look out for both inland and offshore.

Visitors gaze at a tumbling waterfall from an observation platform.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s splendid nature and wildlife park La Paz Waterfall Gardens at Montaña Azul features trails through a soaring hangar-size aviary with a separate climate-controlled butterfly cage. There’s also a hummingbird garden, a serpentarium (snakes), a walk-through ranarium (frogs), a monkey exhibit, plus a trout lake and orchid houses.

A spider monkey relaxing in Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Land Mammals

Guatemala’s list of native land mammals is impressive, with a large variety of exotic cats, primates, and other furry creatures. Here’s a little about popular and common species, along with when and where you’re likely to sight them.

A mantled howler monkey, Alouatta palliata, eating leaves in Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Central America.

Monkeys in Costa Rica

The liveliest and most vocal rainforest tenants, there are four species of monkeys found in Costa Rica: the white-faced (or capuchin), howler, spider, and squirrel. Their daily habits are as varied as the wide range of habitats they occupy, from the rainforest canopy to the scrubby undergrowth of the dry forests, though each species has its own niche and the species seldom meet.

Lily pads at Victoria Regia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing Along the Río Amazonas

Several sights provide excellent photo ops along the Río Amazonas westward from Leticia to the Parque Amacayacu. These are usually visited as part of a package one-day tour offered by all hotels and travel agencies, but for greater flexibility and to avoid feeling part of the herd you can charter your own boat. To be specific about where you want to go and to negotiate a good price, here’s an overview and highlights of the area.